Grant Area Natural Highlights, Page 6

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The Red Mountains

Factory Hill

Factory Hill is a 9,607-foot-high peak in the Red Mountains. By 1876, the peak was called "Red Mountain," a name that had originally been given to present-day Mount Sheridan by members of the 1871 Hayden Survey. Eventually, the name "Red" was applied to the entire small mountain range.

Members of the Hague parties named Factory Hill in about 1885 because N.P. Langford's description of steam vents near the mountain. In the June 1871 issue of Scribner's, Langford had written: "Through the hazy atmosphere we beheld, on the shore of the inlet opposite our camp, the steam ascending in jets from more than fifty craters, giving it much the appearance of a New England factory village" (p. 120).

Lewis River

This river drains Shoshone and Lewis lakes and is a tributary of the Snake River. In 1872, members of the second Hayden survey called the river "Lake Fork" because it was a fork of the Snake that began in those two lakes. An 1876 map showed the river marked "Lewis Fork" (of the Snake), named from Lewis Lake.

Red Mountains

This small range of mountains, located just west of Heart Lake, is completely contained within the boundaries of Yellowstone National Park. In 1871, F.V. Hayden named present-day Mount Sheridan "Red Mountain." In 1872, members of the second Hayden Survey transferred that name to the entire range. The name was "derived from the prevailing color of the volcanic rocks which compose them" (Hayden, Twelfth Annual Report, p. 470). In 1878, Henry Gannett reported that there were 12 peaks in the range, with 10,308-foot-high Mount Sheridan being the highest.

Riddle Lake

This small lake is located about three miles south of the West Thumb bay of Yellowstone Lake. Rudolph Hering (see Hering Lake) of the Hayden Survey named Riddle Lake in 1872. Frank Bradley of the Survey wrote:

"Lake Riddle" is a fugitive name, which has been located at several places, but nowhere permanently. It is supposed to have been used originally to designate the mythical lake, among the mountains, whence, according to the hunters, water flowed to both oceans. I have agreed to Mr. Hering's proposal to attach the name to the lake, which is directly upon the [Continental] divide at a point where the waters of the two oceans start so nearly together, and thus to solve the insolvable "riddle" of the "two-ocean water" (in Hayden, Sixth Annual Report, p. 250).

This "insolvable riddle" of the "mythical lake among the mountains" where water flowed to both oceans probably originated from (or at least was fueled by) "Lake Biddle," which appeared on the Lewis and Clark map of 1806 (named after their editor, Nicholas Biddle). The lake then appeared on the Samuel Lewis version of the map in 1814 as "Lake Riddle." Riddle Lake is not "directly on the divide"; it drains to the Atlantic Ocean by way of its outlet, Solution Creek, which flows to Yellowstone Lake. Thus, the name was the result of a mapping error combined with fur-trapper stories of two-ocean water.

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